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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bye Bye Love...

So a lot of times when I'm blogging, I'll try to find a way to tie dating & relationships with our 'working lives'/the workplace.. because, there really are a lot of similarities, when you think about it.  And I'm sure if I sat here and thought long enough, hard enough... I'd probably find a way to do it with this one, too.  But, I'm not going to...not planning to, anyway.  We'll see what comes out!

Two weeks after my ex-boyfriend & I broke up, one of my oldest 'adult' friends announced she & her husband had broken up, as well.  I was there the day she got engaged, was a part of her wedding, was there for the birth of her first child and genuinely thought she and her hubby would be together forever.  After 4 years, their marriage?  Was over.

Okay, so that's not the first divorce I've ever encountered.  I'm divorced, for Pete's sake... but this one hit me differently.  Maybe it's because I was there for the milestones; or because during some of my REALLY ridiculous dating experiences.. I could look at the two of them and see a glimpse of what 'happily ever after' should look like.  And not going to lie, it made me happy seeing them happy.  That's gone now.  They're divorced & just two months later, I'm now seeing pictures of her that include another guy; and his FB has him in a relationship with another woman.  Neither of them are doing anything wrong; the ink is dry & final... but... it just feels wrong, in terms of love.  How quick is TOO quick when it comes to saying, "Bye Bye" and moving on??

Professionally, we're trained not to leave a job until we have a new one or risk damaging our careers... but, personally,of course that's a big 'no-no.'  I'm not going to hit on affairs & cheating - that's not the point of this blog post.  So, you 'do it right' (3) and end the relationship.  But, it's not like we immediately bounce back like a rubber-band into our 'pre-relationship' form.  No - we often have hurts & baggage to deal with... and even if you could convince me that it was the world's most amicable parting?  No baggage, no blame, all sunshine, roses & lollipops?  YOU have still changed - I mean, life shifts throughout the course of a relationship:  often who you socialize with, how you spend your time, preferences, etc... you're just not the same 'you' that you were before because as we grow, we change.  So, it stands to reason that it might make sense to take some time before you get back out there.

But how much time?  And to do what?  Having gone through a breakup last quarter, I obviously have recently looked to the 'experts' for advice on this very subject.  The one thing they all said in common? "Yes, take time."  Generally speaking, it's considered a good rule of thumb that relationships lasting more than six months will require some amount of "recovery" time because of the impression they leave on our lives.  The men I read offering advice were of two extremes:  about half said, "Get back out there in 30 days."  The other half said you take HALF as long as the relationship lasted.  (4)  That felt too long to me.  The women I asked? Talked in terms of YEARS to get to 'know myself' - holy cow; I turned single again, I didn't completely transform into a totally new person.  Small shifts? Yes.  a "Whole New Me?" No.   In the end, I decided that the amount of time that was appropriate was however long it was to successfully work through the following activities - because pretty much EVERYONE said this is what you do post breakup:

  • What can I do now that I couldn't do before?  (AND DO IT)
  • What are the things I no longer have to do?  (IF THEY DON'T IMPROVE YOUR LIFE? DITCH THEM)
  • What do I have that I didn't have before? (FOCUS ON APPRECIATING THE POSITIVES - I think it's unhealthy to believe there's NOTHING good that comes from relationships we engage in - that's rarely ever really the case)
  • What can I finally let go of?   (AND THAT MEANS REALLY LET GO - *This one's the real time-suck, I think)
  • How can I be different now, in a positive way?  (SPEND GOOD TIME ON THIS; IT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE)
For some people, that probably won't take more than a couple of weeks; and I think a lot of it depends on the personality you have & who you were in the relationship.  Personally, I tend to be the 'acts of service' and 'pleaser' in the relationship - meaning I can flex a lot of my world in an effort to create harmony & I like doing things that maybe I wouldn't even personally otherwise to show I care/make my partner happy.  So, in longer relationships, that may make working through that list take a little longer than the guy or gal that has more of the "take me as I am," "you fit into my life because what you see is what you're gonna get" person.  Neither are bad; they're just different & will require different amounts of time to properly move on.

There's one last litmus stick, I think.  This really cool article in the Times is what made me think of it.  Getting back out there?  It's a lot like Getting Naked... there's a vulnerability to it that makes us nervous.  Like stepping out at the public pool in  your bathing suit; or yes, going to bed for the first time with your new partner.  Reading the title of that article really snapped things into perspective for me - when I was comfortable 'stripping down' to the level of vulnerability required to 'get into the pool?'  I was ready to date - this time? It took just shy of two months.  But, there was a time it took a year.  Maybe my friend & her ex-husband were able to do the same during the process of their divorce - I don't know.  Everybody, every relationship is different.  And, as Judith Sills says in her article on "Getting Naked" - getting back out there?  ISN'T a requirement - some people? Are happy saying "Bye, Bye" to Romantic Relationships Permanently.  And I think that's okay, too...as long as it's true to who you are. But that?  Is another story for another day... ;)

  1. This isn't a political thing, just really sat well with me. 
  2. I'm thinking she means if you expect it'll be easy, then it's a recipe for disaster. 
  3. Which sounds so wrong
  4. In my case, I remember thinking, "Nearly six months?! Are you kidding me?"

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